Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's The End of the World...

... and I feel fine.

Of course that's what I get for getting into some interesting comic book reading material. Thanks to torrent, I've managed to catch up somewhat on some of the best comic book series out there. Yes, I know I'm a bit late in getting on the bandwagon but what can I say, I don't have the funds to get into both books AND comic books.

Serendipitously, the best two series I've read involved the end of the world:

The first series is Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. In this series, a man wakes up in a coma (shades of 28 Days Later) and finds out that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket as zombies walk the earth, devouring the living and spreading like wildfire.

Now, you know my weird fixation on all things zombie. This series has all the trademarks of George Romero's zombie flicks: the undead, a naive protagonist who acts as our eyes as the events unfold, a group of characters thrown together by happenstance, lots of blood and gore, and a hell of a lot of cynical analyses of Civilization-As-It-Is-Overthrown.

It's the last part that separates this comic book from your usual horror stuff. As Kirkman says in an interview, good zombie movies are the ones that show how messed up we are. In this, Kirkman succeeds as he shows how people who are essentially good try to survive in a fucked-up world that's literally out to eat them. Sadly enough, he also shows that even with all the monsters out in the open, sometimes it's the monsters of the human heart that are the worse.

But that doesn't mean the series is all talk and drama. I remember one scene in the comic book which had me jumping up and down: two of the characters had to walk into a zombie-filled city to get guns and discover their disguise (which kept the zombies away) had been washed away by the rain. Really freaked me out.

As recommendations go, this comic book is perfect reading for tonight's Halloween.

On the other hand, I am in awe of Brian Vaughn's Y The Last Man and I can see why this one is both critically acclaimed and quite popular as well. Despite sounding like a one-note affair, this series about Yorick Brown-- amateur escape artist and the titular last man on earth-- is fantastic as Vaughan delves into the deep-seated gender issues of a world wherein all males (both human and animals) have died off, leaving the female species behind.

For example, Vaughan is quite politically-astute, pointing out that among all the armed forces of the world, only Australia allows women to be part of their submarine forces (and thus giving them control of the seas). Moreover, he also subverts the male fantasy of such an idea (being the last man in a world full of women) by making Yorick a romantic, out to find his girlfriend and-- as much as possible-- trying to remain faithful to her. Take that, you perverts!

As one can see, characters is a strong point of this series, starting with his main protagonist: think of Yorick as a younger, geeky, wisecracking Crichton of Farscape fame. There's also 355, his female bodyguard-cum-secret agent who plays foil to Yorick's jester, and Dr. Mann (ironic, yes), a geneticist and expert in cloning, who's the straight man(woman) among the three. Combine all three and watch the snappy dialogue fly.

All in all, I liked this comic book better as compared to the previous one. In fact, if given enough funds, I'd probably collect the trades. I suppose it's because despite the grim ideas behind both series, hope and a sense of humour underlies the latter comic book.

And that, I think, is what we seriously need if ever the end of the world rolls around.


skinnyblackcladdink said...

speaking of humor and Halloween...have you ever seen me in pink?


(limited time only, so click on the link now!!!!?!)

sorry for the self-promotion. am feeling vaguely crazy today. well, more than usual.

Sean said...

Hmm... the funny thing is that once you mentioned comics, the first thing that came to my mind was manga. I must be reading too much of it nowadays, which might end up being detrimental to my health.

It did bring into mind a question, though: Do you read the stuff, Cat? And do you have any favorites in that regard?

Eric said...

Even more ironic about Dr. Mann is your comment about her being the straight woman. :D

banzai cat said...

skinny: I see you've been at the juice again. ;-)

sean: Yep, I did though I treat manga the same way I treat comics: I'd collect 'em if I'd had more funds.

Before, when I had more money and bookshops didn't stock mangas, I actually managed to complete the Nausicaa run courtesy of Comicquest. When Fully-Booked and Powerbooks came out with their manga stocks, I thought of collecting GTO and Lone Wolf and Cub. Alas, I was discouraged by the incomplete line-up (I'm a completist bastard) and the rather pricey cost.

One must stick to one's true love, yes? ;-)

eric: Hey! Welcome aboard! I see we have friends in common (i.e. charlee). I also see you're a teacher at AdMU. I bow to your infinite patience in teaching the little ba-- er, angels.

Yeah, I couldn't resist that thing about Dr. Mann. Have you read the series?

pgenrestories said...

Hi banzai cat. How are you?

Hope you've decided on sending us a story. Today's deadline day.

I've heard from Dean. He's suggested your work, The City, Like A Lover, for us to check out, in case you're inclined to send it in. Just in case you've hit writer's block or are pressed for time.


banzai cat said...

hey man! Yeah, am rushing the story. It's actually coming along quite nicely though the fact that it's deadline day today is making me a bit jumpy. Still, I want to give you this story plus the story dean cited. That way, you can choose which one you want. :-)